A man named Simon was a political opponent of Onias, who held the office of high priest for life. Onias was an honorable and good man. Simon was unable to injure Onias, even though he falsely accused him of all kinds of crimes, pretending to act on the nation's behalf. He went into exile and planned to betray his nation.
So Simon came to Apollonius, the governor of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia, and said,
"Since I am devoted to the king's interests, I have come here to report that tens of thousands of talents in private funds have been deposited in the temple treasuries. These funds are not temple property but belong to King Seleucus."
When Apollonius learned these things, he praised Simon for watching out for the king. Then Apollonius went to Seleucus to tell him about the stash of treasure.
When Apollonius received authority to take action, he quickly advanced into our nation, bringing along the villain Simon and heavily armed troops.
He said that he was commanded by the king to come and confiscate the private funds that were stored in the treasury.
The people angrily protested. They thought it would be terrible if the people who had deposited money in trust in the sacred treasury were robbed. They did whatever they could to prevent it.
However, Apollonius went on to the temple, making threats.
The priests stood in the temple, together with their wives and children, begging God to protect the holy place that was being treated so shamefully.
While Apollonius was approaching with armed soldiers to seize the money, angels on horseback appeared from heaven with flashing weapons. Apollonius and his soldiers were shaking with fear.
Apollonius fell down half dead in the temple court that was open to people of every nation and lifted his hands up to heaven. With tears, he begged the Hebrews to pray for him and to intervene with the heavenly army.
He admitted that he had committed a sin for which he deserved to die, but he promised that, if he were spared, he would tell people everywhere about the divine favor that shelters the holy place.
The high priest Onias was touched by these words, but he was also aware that King Seleucus might assume that Apollonius was killed by human plots rather than by God's justice. Therefore, Onias prayed for him.
When he was unexpectedly delivered from danger, Apollonius left and told the king everything that happened.
After King Seleucus died, his son Antiochus Epiphanes came to power. He was a proud and horrible man.
Antiochus removed Onias from the office of high priest and installed Onias' brother Jason in his place.
Jason had agreed to pay the king three thousand six hundred sixty talents every year if he were made high priest.
So Antiochus appointed Jason to the office of high priest and made him the ruler of the nation.
Jason changed the nation's culture and the government so that they completely contradicted the Law.
He constructed a Greek school and athletic complex in the heart of the city and abandoned the care of the temple.
God's sense of justice was provoked by these things, so God caused Antiochus himself to start a war against the nation.
While Antiochus was at war with Ptolemy in Egypt, he heard that the people in Jerusalem had celebrated when they heard a rumor about his death. So Antiochus rushed off to attack them.
After he had defeated them, he gave an order that anyone who was caught following the traditional Jewish Law should be put to death.
However, his orders had no effect on the people's commitment to keep the Law. He saw that they simply ignored his threats and punishments.
Even women were thrown down from a cliff headfirst along with their infants because they continued to circumcise their sons, though they were fully aware that they would suffer the consequences.
When Antiochus saw how his orders were despised, he himself tried to use torture to force each and every person in the nation to give up Judaism by eating foods that were unacceptable to Jews.